Former British Airways pilot tried to lure '14-year-old boy' to Sunderland house for sexual activity

Gary Morris.
Gary Morris.

A former British Airways pilot who tried to lure an underage boy to his elderly parents' home so he could "sneak" him inside for sexual activity was snared by paedophile hunters.

Married Gary Morris, who has since been sacked by the airline, invited a 14-year-old boy called "Tom", who he had chatted to over dating app Grindr, to come to the house in Sunderland, in the early hours of the morning, while his mother and father were in bed.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the 46-year-old, who lives in Brighton with his husband, but had travelled north for a post-Christmas visit, had been duped by Guardians of the North, an undercover team who set up fake internet profiles to expose adults looking for illegal contact with children.

When the commercial pilot, who qualified over 20-years-ago, expected schoolboy "Tom" to turn up at the door, he was instead visited by officers from Northumbria Police, who had been tipped off by the group.

Morris denied attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming during a trial and claimed the online conversation was just "fantasy" and that he had been" distracted" when Tom told him he was still just a schoolboy.

He was found guilty by a jury after just over three hours deliberation.

Morris was ordered to sign the sex offenders register on an interim basis and has been granted bail until the sentence hearing next month.

Judge Edward Bindloss warned him "all options remain open".

The judge added: "The interim sex offenders notification requirements notice will be given to you, explaining what you have to do and what you can't do."

The court heard Morris was staying with his parents in Sunderland on December 28, 2016, where he had travelled in his black Audi convertible, along with his four-month-old puppy.

Jurors heard he had gone to a pub in the city and had around eight pints between 3pm and 11pm before getting a lift back to his parents' house from his father.

The court heard, while in the spare room at his parents' house, Morris made contact with "Tom" and other men, while browsing Facebook and playing an online scrabble game named Words with friends.

Morris told jurors he had used the Grindr dating app for around six years but would delete it and re-download it as he "didn't want his husband finding out about it".

He said he used the site for "sexual gratification" but that it was "pure fantasy" and he never had any intention of meeting anybody.

He said he must have "missed" the message where "Tom" told him he was 14, as he had been distracted by the other online activity.

But Prosecutor Michael Bunch told the court: "He wasn't after a fantasy. He was after actual sexual contact with Tom."

Morris, who has never been in trouble before, admitted he felt "foolish, embarrassed and ashamed" and confessed he had "betrayed his partner" with the online activity.

His barrister John Dye told jurors the pilot would not risk his "career, relationship and reputation" by doing anything illegal and added: "What Mr Morris is adamant about is he is not a paedophile, he had no interest in children."

The court heard Morris was "dismissed" by British Airways because of the allegation.

A spokesperson for British Airways said: "He no longer works for the airline and has not flown since his arrest in 2016."